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The Lean Institute at Old Dominion University's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology is only a year old, but already has been selected as the organizing sponsor of an international manufacturing conference.

Alok K. Verma, Ray Ferrari Professor of Engineering Technology at ODU, is the general chair of the International Conference on Agile Manufacturing (ICAM), which will be held July 18-21 at Norfolk's Marriott Waterside Hotel. Verma has been a keynote speaker at three previous ICAMs in India, China and Sweden.

About 200 conferees from throughout the world are expected to attend, including manufacturing and business leaders from Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland. At present, Verma is directing about 20 ODU faculty members and graduate students, as well as representatives of local industry, who are planning the conference.

Agile manufacturing, which involves modern methods for quick response to market opportunities, is a term coined by efficiency experts who believe traditional mass production cannot satisfy customer demands in the 21st century. The agile process promotes short development and production lead times, and seeks to accommodate customers who want customized and designed-to-order products. The Lean Institute incorporates lean and agile manufacturing into its goals, and has an overall mission to provide manufacturers with new productivity tools, as well as training and consultation services to improve efficiency.

"Many manufacturers tend to be so busy with day-to-day operations and firefighting that they don't have time to look at the bigger picture," said Verma, who is chief technologist for the local Lean Institute. "This is where we come in, to provide new techniques and tools to provide products of high quality at low cost."

The Lean Institute at ODU works closely with the Virginia Applied Technology and Professional Development Center (VATPDC) and has done projects with industrial clients such as Stihl Inc. and Northrop Grumman.

The latter company presented a $15,000 check to Batten College Dean Oktay Baysal and Verma in April to support the ICAM.

Keynote speakers at the conference will include Kenneth Preiss, Sir Leon Bagrit Chair at Ben Gurion University, Israel; Grier C. I. Lin, director of the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing Research, Australia; James F. Brice, director, Task Force Lean, Naval Sea Systems Command; Richard Schonberger, author of "Let's Fix It," and Jennifer Boykin, vice president for process excellence at Northrop Grumman.

"This conference brings together academic researchers, industry practitioners and government policymakers to a common forum," said Verma. "It offers attendees three concurrent academic tracks and two industry tracks on a wide variety of topics related to lean and agile manufacturing."

Pre-conference workshops are planned on such topics as lean simulations, nanotechnology, supply chain management and robust design and engineering
optimization. Focused technical sessions on topics such as nanotechnology, automotive systems, intelligent manufacturing systems and lean in education
are also being planned.

In addition to Verma, ODU faculty members and graduate students involved in the ICAM planning and operations are Cheng Lin, associate professor of
engineering technology; Anthony Dean, visiting assistant professor of engineering technology; Gary Crossman, professor of engineering technology; Han Bao; Ajinkya Deodhar; Anuradha Singh; Mihir Jawale; Shivanandini Tanuku; Gaurav Jaju, and Samyukta Kodukula.

Details about the conference can be found at www.lions.odu.edu/~averma/ICAM2006.

This article was posted on: May 10, 2006

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